I decided to post each region of the bracket as the tournament draws near, starting with the East Region.
Game 1: Ohio State is a favorite among many analysts to win the tournament. They secured the #1 overall seed and should have no issues running through either U of Texas San. Antonio or Alabama State.
Game 2: This was a hard one. One the one hand, you have Villanova. Big East member and perennial tournament participant. Villanova is battle tested and experienced. George Mason, however, is on a tear. They have been very impressive going 11-1 in their last 12 games. Their defense will be key in this game.
Game 3: West Virginia secured a 5 seed as an at-large out of the Big East and beat both Purdue and Notre Dame during the regular season. UAB and Clemson will have to play each other for the chance to play West Virginia in the first place. This will prove to be either a huge disadvantage with exhausting players, or a huge advantage where UAB/Clemson can get a rhythm going and nerves under control. I don’t think West Virginia should have issues moving on.
Game 4: Princeton stamped their ticket to the dance by beating Harvard in the Ivy League Championship Game on a buzzer beater, shattering Harvard’s hopes of playing in their first “Big Dance” since 1946. Kentucky is no Harvard, and it’ll take more than Princeton has to beat them.
Game 5: Xavier/Marquette is another matchup between a mid-major conference champion against a middle of the pack Big East team. I feel like this one could go either way, depending on which team can sustain momentum, but after Dayton ousted Xavier in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament, I’m hesitant to think they will beat a Big East team.
Game 6: This one is an open and close case. Syracuse is a better team than Indiana State and barring a miracle, will move on to the second round.
Game 7: Washington and Georgia is another tough one to call. Not because the teams are equally good, but because they are equally inconsistant. Washington won the PAC-10 tournament with a victory over top seeded Arizona but lost to Kentucky, a team that Georgia defeated earlier in the season. That said, Washington is the hotter team and should have the edge going into the first round.
Game 8: Another open and shut case. North Carolina is playing at a high level that Long Island can’t handle.
Let the madness begin!!!
(Coming soon – West Region)